Environmental awareness, reduced carbon footprints and a swathe of other green credentials are now an every day reality for building owners and facilities managers. Not only are these eco-friendly considerations sound environmentalism, but also in hard business terms, associated energy costs are an all important bottom line statistic.
Air conditioning and refrigeration hardware accounts for a sizeable percentage of the world’s energy usage and this trend is likely to continue. Modern building design together with integrated energy efficient solutions have made substantial progress towards environmental control running cost reduction. However the harsh reality is, that a vast majority of our infrastructure is dated and will remain that way for some time to come. This is where optimisation comes into it’s own.
Business Edge, through deploying their Health Check Service, has uncovered some truly astounding energy savings for their customers. Up to as much as 40% savings on running costs, that can be realised by simply optimising existing systems and infrastructure.
Using the ClimaCheck performance analyser, the non-invasive Health Check can take a matter of hours to produce highly detailed technical data on the performance of every operating parameter of air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Business Edge’s Technical Team then dissects and analyses the data, searching for poorly performing elements that can be optimised.
Due to popular demand, the company have recently launched their Approved Partner Program. The initiative enables skilled contractors who receive in-depth training on the ClimaCheck product, to perform Health Checks, analyse and deploy optimisation and energy savings for a multitude of business types throughout the UK.
To find out more about how to optimise and thrive, or to receive training as part of the approved partner program, visit the Business Edge web site.
The Business Edge team will also be available to visitors on stand S1475 at this year’s Facilities Management Show at the Excel Centre, London 16th – 18th June. Managing Director Mike Creamer will be speaking at the show about SEI (System Efficiency Index). SEI now replaces COP, comparing actual efficiency versus perfect Carnot Cycle performance for system, compressor, evaporator and condenser.
Under new F–Gas Regulations, any system with 500 equivalent tonnes of CO2 must have permanent leak detection.
ClimaCheck has an indirect leak detection system built in, as well as all the benefits of energy monitoring and system defect alerts via text or email.
ClimaCheck is also available as a portable system. This way you can analyse plant at each service visit and each leak check.
Indirect Leak Detection – Standard
ClimaCheck relies on measurements within the system and compares these over time to establish there is a leak. More reliable for plant situated in ventilated plant rooms or outside.
Ideal for critically charged systems (no liquid receivers). ClimaCheck will clearly identify low sub-cooling, high superheat, reduced cooling capacity, lower COP readings, reduced compressor power, increased discharge temperature. This confirms a refrigerant leak!
Automatic alarms can be set to alert personnel to potential refrigerant leaks.
Direct Leak Detection – Optional
Add up to 6 ClimaCheck sensors on a single circuit system. Multiple options for different sensors to cover all refrigerants. Ideal for all systems including those with liquid receivers. Multiple alarm outputs from the ClimaCheck Server. Monitor multiple zones & plants with a single ClimaCheck system.
Inefficient Environmental Control Systems may be costing businesses more than wasted energy consumption
“Your environment has a huge impact on how productive you are. That means the temperature in your room, the colour of your walls and the noise happening around you.”
Studies have shown that personnel within our man-made environments show efficiency improvements when climate control is operating correctly.
However, the results from poorly controlled environments show some truly surprising results.
Personnel within office environments that are operating at temperatures only 5% below the optimum level, recorded an astonishing 44% increase in mistakes!
Similarly, employees working in hot and poorly ventilated environments suffer from increased tiredness and lethargy, which again dramatically reduces performance.
While most of us are aware when we are too hot or too cold, white noise is a type of ‘silent distraction’ that we often overlook.
The increased cortisol levels resulting from ongoing white noise may disrupt a person’s capacity to think clearly and to retain information.
Needless to say, together with the ‘human cost’ associated with noisy air conditioning systems, the equipment itself may be suffering too!
HVAC & Refrigerant Retrofit
HVAC system replacement is a costly and messy process that can disrupt building operations over an extended period of time. This means it’s crucial to ensure the retrofit produces the maximum benefit. Not only will this enhance the operation of the facility, it will also help to ensure that the retrofit process will not have to be repeated in the near future.
Facilities Managers and ACR Contractors embarking on an HVAC retrofit should keep the following 10 steps in mind.
1. Direct Swap?
The easiest and quickest way to replace an older HVAC system is to put in a new system that matches the old one. For example, when the building chiller reaches the end of its service life, it is common practice to install a new chiller of the same type and capacity. Conditions today are probably different, perhaps vastly different, than they were when the original chiller was installed.
While that approach is simple and quick, it is often not the best choice. Most HVAC systems and their components have normal service lives of 15 to 25 years if properly maintained. When a system is originally installed, it is sized and designed to meet the needs of the building at that time. Buildings change, and so do the operations that take place within the buildings. There might be more people in the building and more electronic equipment – computers, printers, copiers and the like. Simply replacing ‘like for like’ does not take these changes into consideration. To get the most out of HVAC system retrofits, the new system with new options must be designed to match the current and future needs of the facility.
2. New Technologies
HVAC technology has achieved tremendous progress in the past 15 years. New DDC control systems provide a better climate while reducing energy costs. High-efficiency or alternative-fuel chillers can reduce the cost of air conditioning. Variable frequency drives can improve the operating efficiency of both chillers and fan systems. Interoperable building automation systems give facility executives the tools they need to better manage operations.
Although these HVAC technologies are relatively new, they are not risky. They have proven themselves in a range of applications. They are widely used today in new construction. Many are considered essential to keep facilities competitive.
An HVAC retrofit is often a good time to take advantage of these newer HVAC technologies. To determine which technologies are appropriate and cost-effective for the application, take a close look at the existing facility and how it is operated.
Buildings today are in a constant state of churn. Interiors are rearranged. Old tenants move out and new ones move in. Infrastructure requirements increase. The result is that facility executives are constantly changing facilities to meet the needs of occupants. One thing that doesn’t change easily in many existing buildings is the HVAC system.
This is why flexibility should be a key goal of HVAC system retrofits. HVAC systems should be able to adapt to those changes without requiring costly alterations. Otherwise, facility executives face a no-win situation: covering the cost of expensive changes to the HVAC system or living with an HVAC system that can’t keep up with changes in the building.
4. Part-load Performance
Chillers are the single largest users of electricity in practically all buildings. Not surprisingly, improving the efficiency of chillers has been a major goal for chiller manufacturers. As a result, today’s chillers are 25 to 50 percent more efficient at full load than those of 15 years ago. When selecting replacement chillers, much emphasis is paid to this full-load efficiency rating, however that’s only part of the picture.
Most chillers operate at full load for less than 5 percent of their total run time. The other 95 percent of the time chillers are operating below full-load capabilities. As the load on chillers decreases, so does the efficiency of the units.
Because chillers operate under part-load conditions for such a high percentage of their run times, the annual energy cost of the chiller will be determined primarily by its part-load efficiency. Although it might cost more to purchase a unit with better part-load efficiency, this premium will be recovered many times over through energy savings during the life of the chiller.
As HVAC systems age, maintenance requirements increase. Maintenance costs are too often ignored when system retrofits are being evaluated. In fact, as long as a system doesn’t stop working, it might not even be considered as a retrofit candidate. Just because a system is able to limp along doesn’t mean it’s operating efficiently or meeting the requirements of the application.
Look through maintenance records for the building. High maintenance costs and increasing maintenance requirements are an indication that those systems or components might be approaching the end of their service lives. Facility executives should set priorities for HVAC retrofits based in part on maintenance requirements. Alternatively, an ACR Health Check using performance analysers such as ClimaCheck will immediately indicate poor perfromance and areas for improvement through optimisation.
Another factor to consider is the availability of replacement components. When components for a particular system are no longer available from the manufacturer, or if the manufacturer should go out of business, it is only a matter of time before it will be necessary to replace that system. This has happened frequently with building automation systems. Before the development of interoperable systems, users were at the mercy of the system manufacturer. Many manufacturers failed or decided to get out of the building automation system business. Others upgraded their systems and discontinued support for older generation systems. Once the spare parts inventory was depleted, users had little choice but to retrofit their building automation systems.
Consider also the maintenance requirements of the systems and components that are being installed as part of the retrofit. Can they be maintained by in-house personnel, or will their maintenance have to be performed under contract? What tools and training will be required to properly operate and maintain the new system? What are the projected maintenance costs? Ignoring maintenance requirements for the retrofitted system will only guarantee having to retrofit the system before it would otherwise be necessary.
6. Looking Ahead
There is a tendency when planning for HVAC retrofits to develop tunnel vision and focus on only a specific component or portion of the HVAC system. Chillers that are becoming unreliable or the air handler that no longer meets the needs of the conditioned space, might be serious problems that demand to be addressed. But before making retrofit decisions, facility executives should step back and determine if other projects planned for the building will affect HVAC system operation.
For example, upgrading the lighting system or installing more energy-efficient windows will reduce cooling loads. If those projects are planned in the near future, then a planned retrofit program for the building’s chiller should be scheduled after they have been completed. Reduced cooling loads will allow a smaller chiller, reducing both first and operating costs.
7. Building Occupants
One of the goals of any HVAC retrofit program is to improve the level of service. While facility executives might understand the technical problems with the existing HVAC systems, they will not fully comprehend the needs of building occupants unless they get them involved in the retrofit process. After all, occupants are the ones that understand their environments the best. Facility executives will not know what system will best meet occupant needs – indeed, they might not even have a good understanding of what their HVAC needs are. Occupant input will give the facility executive a clearer understanding of what the HVAC system will be expected to acheive.
Building occupants are also good sources of information on the performance of existing systems. Frequently, they are aware of problems that go unreported to building staff. That information is often crucial in setting priorities for HVAC system retrofits.
There’s one other good reason to get occupants involved: HVAC system retrofits can be disruptive. They can require temporary relocation of building occupants. Heating or air conditioning service may be disrupted for days or weeks. A schedule of moves and outages will have to be developed. Without the cooperation of occupants, retrofits can turn into scheduling nightmares.
8. Program Approval
HVAC retrofits must compete with other programs for funding. Too often, though, facility executives simply submit funding requests with little or no supporting information. As a result, projects fail to win the funding needed to perform a complete retrofit. Instead, components are patched together just to keep the system running.
To increase the chances of receiving funding, facility executives must submit their budget requests in a format familiar to financial managers. Energy savings, maintenance savings, return on investment: These are among the terms that will help convince financial managers of the value of the project.
It’s also important to provide the right level of detail. For example, if reliability is an issue, it isn’t enough simply to report that fact; instead, the facility executive must show that it is a problem with key supporting information. How many times has service been interrupted? What was the cost of those interruptions to the maintenance department? What was the cost to building occupants? What level of performance can be expected from the retrofit system?
An HVAC retrofit is a major undertaking for the facility department, the occupants and the organisation’s management. It is also an opportunity. An opportunity that, because of the cost and disruption involved, might not come along again for decades. What’s more, the success of the project will shape the way that occupants and top management perceive the facility department and contracting team, a perception that will influence the success of future facility initiatives. Taking the time to get the retrofit right is worth the effort.
As of January 1st 2015, R22 Refrigerant will be discontinued. Systems using R22 that require invasive servicing or repair must undergo complete refrigerant R22 removal and deep system cleansing before introducing the alternative refrigerant. An increasing number of equipment manufacturers will be offering flammable refrigerants. Are you ready?
Recognised as one of the UK’s leading air conditioning, refrigeration and heat pump specialists, Business Edge are working with manufacturers, contractors and end users to ensure absolute optimal performance from all environmental control systems.
In almost 100% of cases, our Health Check Analysis shows potential for improvements in efficiency and energy savings, on occasion up to and beyond 30%!
• Our ACR&HP Health Check is completely non-invasive.
• We can work with your existing contractor.
• Data will be provided to demonstrate and verify potential energy savings.
How much money does a saving of 30% energy consumption represent to you?
Set high goals for your AC&R system, then meet them.
Contact us or speak to one of our technical team on: 023 9223 0007 if you’d like to discuss the benefits acheivable during your next retrofit.
Take a look at our Building Services Energy Efficiency 2015 Check List and ACR System Optimisation information.
New legislation changes in 2015 will affect building owners, facilities managers and contractors alike. We have compiled a short list of the key challenges facing the ACR industry and details about how you can turn these challenges into substantial money saving opportunities.
In almost 100% of cases, our Health Check Analysis shows potential for improvements in efficiency and energy savings, on occasion up to and beyond 30%!